A Scribbly on Ghibli: THE START

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

*I know it’s been nearly thirty-four years but I’m still going to say it: SPOILER ALERT!!*

Many people will argue that Hayao Miyazaki is one of, if not the greatest animation director of our time and it is often argued that at least one of his many animated features is probably the “best animated movie of all time,” though which is disputed. This film is one of the films often considered when debating the topic (it’s also my boyfriend’s childhood favorite). Inspired by the mercury poisoning of Minamata Bay in the 50s and 60s, Miyazaki released his manga series Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which ran from 1982-1994. The animated adaption to this series, released in 1984, marked the second feature length animated film to be directed by the artist.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world a thousand years in the future, Nausicaä tells the story of humanities struggle to survive a wasteland ruled by giant bugs; mainly the Ohm. When two warring kingdoms bring their fight to the small kingdom on the side of the “toxic jungle”, The Valley of the Wind, it sends the young princess Nausicaä on a journey “to restore the bond between humanity and the earth.” Filled with an abundance of great characters, an enriching plot, and beautifully designed scenery, this movie does well to draw the audience into the world. The movie stresses the importance of thinking before action and using pacifistic ideals to cultivate peace. While the titular character has a serious martyr complex, she is still relatable and inspirable and deserves her titular recognition.

 

Nausicaä opens with the infamous Lord Yupa riding through the wasteland covered in spores donned in a gas mask. Upon discovering a village consumed by the toxic jungle we are delivered our first line of dialogue a minute and twenty seconds in, “Yet another village is dead.” This sets the tone for humanities outlook on their chances of survival against the toxic jungle and the looming Ohm. When a Tolmekian ship crashes into the valley it delivers all kinds of trouble for the citizens, including, among other things, an ancient geo-weapon. Soon Nausicaä too is kidnapped but they don’t make it far before she and her captors are shot down by an opposing Pejite gunship. They crash into the toxic jungle and we are met with a gorgeous imagery juxtaposing the serenity with the danger they face in the area. It soon becomes clear that both the Tolmekian’s and the Pejite’s are have become consumed with their war, willing to sacrifice anything or one to make sure that they are victorious. Only Nausicaä and the people of the valley see the importance of the bugs and the jungle and when all are confronted with the consequences of their war it is Nausicaä who sacrifices herself to make it right.

With a soft pastel palette, a lovely original score, and Ghibli shivers, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, shows the importance of humanity working with instead of against nature in order for both to flourish. It also shows how governing powers are willing to sacrifice anything, even the very earth itself, for their own personal agenda (whether science backs it up).

There’s a reason this movie is considered the greatest animated movie of all time.

Tags: ,

About the Author

Sierra Beeler is a junior English major at UNC Charlotte. An aspiring screenwriter, she hopes to one day entertain the masses with a book series turned television show she hopes will “put J.K Rowling to shame.” When not working on one of her many uncompleted projects, Sierra enjoys watching Hulu and crying over fictional characters.
Top